We know that pet parenthood is the best for so many different reasons, but there’s new research from a preliminary study that shows having a pet can help ease cognitive decline in older adults.
In other words, being a dog pawrent can help keep you younger at heart and in your brain!
The preliminary study was released last week by researchers at the University of Michigan. It linked pet parenthood for five or more years to the delay of aging in the brains of adults who averaged 65-years-old. This April, the research team plans to present the data at the American Academy of Neurology’s 74th Annual Meeting.
Dr. Tiffany Braley is with the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She authored the study, and said that prior studies suggested that bond between our pets may have health benefits for decreasing stress and lowering blood pressure. She said that their research expanded those benefits in that it suggests that pet ownership can help reduce cognitive decline in adults as they age.
To reach these conclusions, the research team looked at cognitive data from an existing study of over 1300 adults who averaged 65-years-old and had normal cognitive skills at the beginning of the study. Of that group, 53% owned pets and a third (32%) said they were long-term pet parents, which meant that they’d had a pet for fiver or more years.
The research team measured cognitive function using tests over a six-year period. These tests included word recall tests, number counting and subtraction problems.
The participants were given cognitive scores ranging from 0-27 based on their performance on those tests over the six years. The research team found that the rate of cognitive decline was slower in pet owners over that time period than in non-pet owners. In long-term pet owners, the difference in cognitive decline was even stronger.
On average, those who were long-term pet owners had cognitive scores that were 1.2 points higher than compared to their non-long-term pet owner peers. They even found extra benefit for those participants who identified as black, male, seniors and with a college education. The research team found those results interesting in that over 88% of the participants were white.
Dr. Braley said they still need to do more research to confirm results, but believes there is a tie-in with the reduction in stress levels that previous studies have shone. Saying that stress negatively affects cognitive function, the lower stress levels that come from pet parenthood, especially dogs, could mean that pet parenthood can make a big difference in our quality of life as we age.
None of this is surprising to us dog parents, is it? We know that our dogs bring us joy and keep us on our toys, and their only problem is that we have to say goodbye to them sooner than we’re ready to.
That said, there ARE things we can do to help keep them their healthiest and happiest when we have them–and that clearly looks like a win-win for us and for them!
Adding Bernie’s Perfect Poop to each meal is the easiest way to help your dog live his best life. It’s the perfect combination of fiber, pre- and probiotics and digestive enzymes in two delicious formulas.
Science continues to show that the healthier a dog’s digestive system and gut, the healthier he is overall. That means there’s more time for you and him to live and love life together. We don’t give our dogs the best we can give because we’re hoping to get something back from them, but the unconditional love (and possible cognitive health benefits for humans) sure don’t hurt!
Give your dog the gift of good dog gut health and he may just give you a better brain in return!